With healthcare professionals encourage social distancing as a precaution against coronavirus spread, faith communities are considering adjustments to their practices.
As for the Catholic Church, both the Diocese of Rapid City and the Diocese of Sioux Falls have released differing changes to mass.
The Diocese of Rapid City announced precautionary adjustments to mass on March 6th, before South Dakota had confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Father Michel Malloy is the Diocesan Administrator. He explains one such precaution is suspending use of the cup during communion until further notice.
“Because people would be receiving the Blood of Christ through a common cup, so we’re suspending that temporarily," he explains. "We’re also going to encourage people not to engage in shaking hands during the Sign of Peace, another part of the Catholic service, but rather to exchange that peace verbally. And then not to hold hands during the Our Father if they are accustomed to doing that.”
The Diocese of Rapid City is also suggesting parishioners take communion by hand rather than receiving it directly on the tongue, but this step is not required.
The Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls released a statement from Bishop Donald DeGrood on Wednesday. The statement leaves modifications to the discretion of local pastors.
In the statement, Bishop DeGrood says, “The coronavirus has already directly impacted one of our Catholic schools and parishes and is likely to affect others in the near future.” He closes the statement noting the Diocese will offer further direction as advised by health officials.
Both statements encourage those feeling ill to stay home and emphasize that missing mass because of illness is not a sin.